America has 4th of July, Ireland St. Patrick’s Day, the French Bastille Day, and the Dutch have Queen’s Day. I feel like I may be losing what little there is left of my patriotism when I say that Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) could be even better than the 4th of July. The entire country of the Netherlands seems to come out to party in a giant mass of orange. Each year Amsterdam welcomes an additional 700,000 visitors to celebrate the royal house of Orange. This year was an even bigger deal because it was the day that the Queen Beatrix handed down the thrown to her son Williem Alexander. It was both the inauguration and the last Queen’s day, as next year will be Kings day.
I had heard about the magic of Queen’s day since I arrived in the Netherlands nearly a year ago, there were some serious expectations to live up to. My friend Jacob also heard about the magic and decided that it was a grand time to come visit me. We teamed up with a Vic and John (team JJEV) to take on both Den Haag and Amsterdam for 24 hours of Royal celebration. And celebrate we did.
Team JEVV started out the celebration on Queen’s night, the night before Queen’s day in Den Haag. The city was in full festival swing. There were 8 stages set up throughout the city, and a constant flow of people frolicking the streets dressed in their finest orange attire. We caught a few of the live performances and took in the general atmosphere of the city before retiring for the night.
On the day of the Queen we dragged ourselves out of bed and onto a train bound for Amsterdam. Although we weren’t fully recovered from the previous night’s celebrations, we dove straight into day two, using the train ride to catch some additional rest. We started in Dam Square to watch some of the inauguration ceremony. Although the actual ceremony took place inside the Nieuwe Kirk, giant screens were set up around the square to give the public a view into the ceremony. The atmosphere in the square was pretty remarkable, a feeling of composed celebration mixed with a dash of anticipation, and a pinch of patriotism. We didn’t stay too long as none of us were terribly attached to Miss B and we couldn’t understand the Dutch speeches.
The new King and Queen
We met up with a few more friends and went on our way through the city navigating the canals and streets finding various adventures. Along the way there was certainly an air of enterprise throughout the city. During Queen’s day the licensing and tax laws have been placed on hold for sales, thus making it possible for anyone to sell just about anything. People had tables and tarpes set out selling everything from fine antiques, to old McDonald’s toys. There were even houses selling use of their toilets. In addition to the road celebrations, the famous canals of Amsterdam were filled with orange boats. People took the party to the water and cruised around the city in a riggata of celebration.
After walking through the streets our ultimate destination was a music festival in the Olympic stadium. Since the Queens’ day street celebrations generally end around 5 we thought that we would extend the party at a festival. We danced around like maniacs to a collection of sounds created by DJ’s until the sun went down, and decided to take our tired selves back home.
Koninginnedag certainly lived up to my expectations, I’ve got a whole new appreciation for the Dutch as well as the color orange.
*photos curesty of my pals John and Jacob.